There’s a new type of student graduating into higher education and with it comes a new way of learning. For students born between the years of 1994-2014 information is purely digital. Students of this age, or Generation Z, are more independent than ever because they don’t need a classroom to gather information as it is literally available at their fingertips. They don’t recall a time where laptops, iPad’s and other devices weren’t available. With this type of instant access there’s been a shift in how educational facilities are designed.

Traditionally, educational facilities have been designed to create spaces for learning and living; separate from one another. Below are the 5 factors that have traditionally made education work for a student. Within the past 10 years though there has been a change in thinking that these two spaces need to be separate from one another. More and more educational spaces are now being designed to include a collaboration space for both learning and living. This collaboration space is commonly referred to as the 3rd Space.

1) Location

2) Program

3) Environment

4) Space

5) Technology

With Generation Z students now entering higher education designers are seeing a need for an additional area; one that includes a space for living, learning and collaboration. This new area is being referred to as the 4th Space. This 4th Space allows students to do it all without having to relocate as their needs change. With the introduction of this 4th Space traditional classrooms are being converted into more multifunctional spaces where you can log into a classroom that may be held on the other side of world. To show you how this shift in thinking applies to learning below are those same 5 factors when applied to a Generation Z student.

1) Location ———→ Anywhere

2) Program ———→ Multifunctional

3) Environment —-→ Augmented

4) Space ————–→ Free

5) Technology ——→ Immersive

So with Generation Z you can see Interior Designers will need to reassess how to space plan and design educational facilities that follow suit with the technological and social trends that are emerging.